New Delhi: Bangladesh foreign minister Shahriar Alam has cancelled his visit to India to attend the Indian external affairs ministry-backed Raisina Dialogue that gathers defence and foreign ministers besides strategic experts on a common platform annually.
The Indian foreign ministry did not comment on the matter while the foreign ministry in Bangladesh said the cancellation was due to Alam having to travel to the United Arab Emirates as part of prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s official delegation. “The inability of his participation has no other connection," the statement from the Bangladesh foreign ministry said.
Alam will be the third minister from Bangladesh in recent weeks to cancel his visit to India.
Earlier, the home and foreign ministers of Bangladesh had canceled their trips to India on the back of India enacting the Citizenship Amendment Act that promises to fast track Indian citizenship for minorities including Hindus, Sikhs and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. According to the Indian government, the aim of the act is to ensure that persecuted minorities from these countries are given a home in India.
Bangladesh with which India had dramatically improved ties between 2014 and 2019 during the first term of the Narendra Modi government is upset with India for clubbing it along with Pakistan and Afghanistan where Islamist hardline groups like the Taliban have targeted religious minorities. Dhaka is also upset with India over its plans for a National Registry for Citizens that aims to weed out migrants or illegal immigrants — seen as those coming in from Bangladesh. Last year, a court mandated process had identified 1.9 million people in Assam who could not furnish papers to prove their citizenship. Bangladesh, which already hosts hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar is wary of the possibility that the 1.9 million people could be pushed across into its territory.
According to news reports from Bangladesh, India’s Citizenship Amendment Act and National Registry of Citizens has ignited considerable anti-India sentiment, pressuring prime minister Sheikh Hasina to publicly express her disapproval.